Sunday, May 29, 2016

More Purpose in Prayer

Hello everyone! I hope you've all had a fantastic week filled with the spirit! I know that we did, and there are some changes that will keep life exciting and moving forward. :) 

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We ended the week with the baptism of Hiep, a great young man who has a great sense of humor. There was a little chaos in trying to organize the logistics of the baptism, as there always is, but he had a good experience and he showed up to church the next day in a suit and tie. He surprised us, since we never mentioned anything about dressing more formally when going to church as a member, but he felt that he wanted to. It's wonderful to see how much people change, even though it's just a little change at a time.

The week was full of lessons, two exchanges (back-to-back, actually. I virtually didn't see Elder Mahendran for 2 days!), planning and organizing a baptism, and writing a Plan of Salvation rap for a member family. It went really well, and I've really grown to love the members in Footscray ward.

Along with learning how to organize a baptism, I've been learning a lot about prayers and making them more meaningful. A lot of my studies have brought me back to the importance of prayer, and how prayer can change us and help bring blessings into our lives. I especially appreciated the quote by President Spencer W. Kimball, "I hope that not too many of our prayers are silent, although when one cannot pray vocally it is good to have a prayer in your heart." Throughout my life, I've had the spirit prompt me that I need to say more vocal prayers, and every time that I have, I have felt the spirit in more abundance. However, I often fall back into the more comfortable, convenient mode of saying my prayers just in my mind. The importance of vocal prayer is especially poignant when teaching investigators how to pray and to see how they pray. Time and time again, Heavenly Father has been showing me what I need to do to get closer to Him, and He does the same for all His children. One of the best ways that we can come closer to Him is deliberate, meaningful prayer. Sometimes that means that we, like Joseph Smith, need to go to a place which we have previously designed to go to attempt to say a prayer vocally. I've appreciated being able to do that more this week, and I'm grateful for the love and power that I feel when doing so.

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Other than that, we got transfer news last night! I'm moving to Springville, the only Vietnamese area that's not in or near the actual city of Melbourne. I'll be serving with Elder Roberts again, my previous companion, and Elder Mahendran will be serving with Elder Marshall, my MTC companion. We get to know each other very well in the Vietnamese program. :) I'm excited for the future, and hopeful that everything will be well. I know that through sincere and meaningful prayer, I receive the specific and loving guidance of my Father in Heaven. 

I pray that you are well, happy, and drawing ever-nearer to God, our eternal Father. :) I love you all and hope you have a fantastic week! :)

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Book of Mormon & Promises

Hello, everyone! I hope this Sabbath day finds you well and rested and that the promises of the Lord are being fulfilled for you in your life. :) 

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Me and my flatmate, Elder Banner. He's a peach. He shares his peach rings with me. :)

This week, I finished the Book of Mormon! But wait, Elder Erekson, didn't you write about that last week? Well, this week, I was able to finish it again, but this time it was with the mission (we've been reading from the beginning of April to the end of May cover to cover), and my testimony was once again fortified and strengthened. This time, I paid particular attention to the promises made to us in the last few chapters in the Book of Moroni. I was impressed by the gifts of the spirit that Moroni goes into after his famous promise- namely, that we will know the truth of all things from the Holy Ghost. I've been thinking a lot about the gifts of the spirit that I need to seek for to be able to bless the lives of my investigators, companion, and those around me. I know that just as He has given me a witness that the Book of Mormon is true, He will help me have great spiritual gifts such as knowledge, faith, being able to teach by the spirit, and healing those who are sick.

We're continuing to work closely with our investigators, many of whom are progressing steadily towards baptism. It's been a great experience to try and help them build faith in the fundamental doctrines of the gospel. We had a fun experience this week where we taught 4 investigators at one time! It was hard, though, because it was an unexpected opportunity and all of them were at different levels of progression and understanding, and catering to those needs made it difficult to be more focused on one. I take solace in the fact that God makes up for our mistakes and short-comings as long as we are trying our best. I know that He does, and I pray that the experience was still good for all of them. :) This week, we're working really closely with someone to prepare him for baptism this Saturday!

Language is study is steadily getting better. Having been able to translate in sacrament meeting for the past few weeks, I'm starting to really see where my weaknesses and bad habits are. I'm going to start focusing more on those during language study so that I can have a better grasp at the language. Fortunately, I'm finally starting to feel that I can express the feelings of my heart in prayer to my Heavenly Father even if my language skills still aren't the greatest.

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Wally really wants to improve his language skills, too!

I know that God fulfills promises and that He wants to impart to us of all the spiritual gifts of which we stand in need. As we come unto Him in prayer and scripture study and service, He will come to us and give us more abundantly than we can imagine. :) This is my testimony and my witness in the name of Jesus Christ, my Savior and Master, amen.

I love you all! I hope you have a fantastic week! :) 

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Sick Days & The Book of Mormon

Hello, everyone! Once again, I pray that you have had an amazing week and will continue to do so for this upcoming week. :) Down under, this week was a little different and kind of sad, but it had its up moments as well!

First and foremost, I was able to finish the Book of Mormon again! I loved being able to reapply Moroni's promise after reading cover to cover. I was particular struck by the preface to his promise, wherein he exhorts us to ponder in our hearts how merciful God has been from the beginning, even from the creation of Adam down to this time, to His children. I thought a lot about how merciful He's been to just me alone, and I was filled with gratitude and the spirit. I can only begin to imagine the great tender mercies that I don't notice, for myself and for others. I'm very grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who continues to help us every day in great and little ways. :)

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As far as teaching and finding goes this week, we didn't have a lot of opportunity because my companion had to go to the doctors to figure some things out with food poisoning. Everything's fine now, and two blessings later, he says that he's feeling great! We just have to do a few follow-up visits to make sure that everything is still kosher for him. Fortunately, we were blessed to go to the temple this week and we got to see many of our investigators. They have all come such a long way, and I just hope that we can help them make that extra step and commitment to baptism. :) 

I'm grateful to be serving as a missionary and to know that the Lord is aware of me. I promise that He is also aware of you and He loves you. To feel that for yourself, I exhort you to pray, study from His written word and the words of His servants, and to sincerely seek a deep, lasting relationship with Him. I know that as you do, He will show Himself to you in profound and unforeseen ways. I know the church is true, and I love it too! Have a great week! :) 
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P.s We were drawing pandas yesterday as a flat. This one's mine! :) 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Preparing for the Morrow

Hello, everyone! I hope that you've all had a fabulous week and have shown your mothers your love and appreciation for their service and sacrifice on your behalf. If you haven't yet, I recommend reviewing Elder Holland's General Conference Address from October 2015, Behold Thy Mother. :) 

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Cinco de Mayo(?) was fun! I had a burrito to celebrate it. :) 

This week was full of preparation and determination to be able to serve the Lord as best as we could. We've been working with a couple of really good investigators, and particularly helping them love and desire the eternal blessings of the temple, and it's been going really great! However, some of them are a little hesitant to commit to baptism at the moment, but we're sure that with more time, more spirit, and a greater understanding of the blessings that come from those things, the desire will come from within them.

We have two investigators who are right now on track to be baptized, and we're really hoping to connect them with the Savior through the Book of Mormon. This week, I've been ponderizing the scripture 3 Nephi 17:3, which roughly says, "Go ye unto your homes and ponder upon the things with I (meaning the Lord, Jesus Christ) have said and prepare your minds for the morrow, and I come unto you again." The great promise that He will come again is right before us all over the scriptures, and what He asks us to do is to prepare for the morrow, when He will come. 

Preparation and improvisation are things I'm learning a lot about on my mission. It's very difficult to have a good balance of both, since we can't always account for every variable in our lives. However, I know that God, the Eternal Father, and Jesus Christ are omniscient and do know what will happen as we set plans. I know that by preparing ourselves to be more spiritually receptive, we can allow the Holy Ghost to guide us as we make plans or improvise; we can be sure that whatever we're doing is what the Lord wants and expects to do. I hope that I can continue to learn more about preparation and not only to be ready to see Him again, but also to help others be ready to see Him again, too.

I'm grateful for my mother, who prepared me really well for my mission, and who continues to prepare me for my life in the eternities. I'm grateful for a loving Savior who comforts, leads, and guides me. I cannot express my love and appreciation for two such messianic figures, who carry me and save me. :)

I know the church is true, and I know that Jesus Christ will come again. When He does, I want to be prepared. :) I share these things in his sacred name, even Jesus Christ, amen.

Have a fantastic week! :) I love you! :) 

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Sunday, May 1, 2016

A God of Miracles

Hello again! I hope you had an amazing week. :) We've had a pretty good one full of little miracles, good studies, and enjoyable exchanges.

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The highlight of this week for me was definitely the baptism that we got to attend on Saturday. We took an investigator (Sandra), and she had a profound spiritual experience. She told us afterwards that watching the baptism really made her emotional, and that she really enjoyed the spirit of unity and love that she could feel there. I, myself, was really edified and uplifted by the wonderful spirit brought there by the members. It was a delightful taste of the joy that we will have in the eternities according to our faith. :)

I've been pondering a lot this week about how God truly is a God of miracles. I've had the opportunity to study a bit of the old testament in preparation to work with a member in our ward and help them build their faith, and as I've read and learned, I've just been impressed so much with the miracles that God has performed. We believe in a God that literally parted the waters to allow His people to be safe. We believe in a God that sent angels to shut the mouths of lions so that Daniel could be unharmed because of his faith. We believe in a God who literally walked on water, raised the dead, gave sight to the blind, and healed people from chronic, life-long infirmities. We believe in a God who literally felt everything that we felt in terms of pain, suffering, and sin; died for us on the cross; and lived again in glory. We believe in a God who has given us the same power and authority to do those very things according to our faith and belief in Him. How great and wonderful is our God, truly a God of miracles! :) What miracles have you seen this last week, great or small, that God has given you to show you that He's there, He trusts you, and that He wants you to return to Him?

I know that the church is true. I'm very excited to be working with a few investigators and a lot of members to be able to share my testimony with them and help them progress. I'm grateful that I have the help of my Heavenly Father and Savior as I do so, and it's a joy to help others see it too. 

I hope you have a wonderful week! Until next week! I love you! :) 

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